Ruling parties use defections to consolidate position in AP, Telangana

Hyderabad | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on April 11, 2017

Rivals welcome: Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu welcoming former YSR Congress leader Adireddy Appa Rao to the TDP

Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao inducting formerCongress leader G Vivekanand into the TRS (file photos)

TRS, TDP grow their numbers ahead of 2019 elections

Trigger defections, weaken the opposition and run the government — this seems to be the common strategy of the ruling parties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Post bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) led by K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) came to power in Telangana while N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was given the mandate in Andhra Pradesh.

If the TRS scraped through with a simple majority, the TDP allied with the BJP and got a comfortable majority.

Now, KCR and Naidu’s attempts to use defections to consolidate their hold in their respective States, and gain an upper hand by the 2019 election, are in no way curbed by anti-defection laws.

From 63 seats out of 119 in 2014, TRS has grown its strength to 90. The party has used a combination of lure, Telangana sentiment and subtle coercion to systematically reduce the opposition numbers. In a targeted, covert strategy called Akarshan (attraction), the party has been poaching members from the YSR Congress and the TDP.

All the three YSR Congress legislators in Telangana have crossed over to the TRS.

Moving heavyweights

The TDP had bagged 15 seats in Telangana. The party’s heavyweight from Hyderabad, Talasani Srinivasa Yadav, moved to TRS in December 2014, and he was made a minister.

Emboldened by the silence on the anti-defection clause by the Assembly Speaker, the TRS upped the ante after the ‘cash-for-vote’ scam surfaced during the Telangana Legislative Council elections in June 2015, which alleged the involvement of Naidu as well.

With the YSR Congress of YS Jaganmohan Reddy building its base up in AP, and Naidu focusing on the new capital of Amaravati, the TDP in Telangana started losing ground rapidly. The legislators were caught in a dilemma.

At this juncture, the TRS struck with the prize catch of Errabelli Dayakar Rao, a bitter critic of KCR and strongman from Warangal with a big following.

His shifting loyalties with supporters was a major blow to the TDP, and the party suffered a split in Telangana. Of its 15 legislators in the State Assembly, 12 defected to TRS.

The Congress has also been a soft target for the TRS. From 21 in the Assembly, its number has come down to 12.

The TRS argues that its aim is to bring in legislators who want to build a ‘ Bangaru (golden) Telangana’. TDP and Congress leaders have made serious allegations about the Speaker’s silence amid all the defections.

It’s hot in Rayalseema

In AP, the YSR Congress won 67 seats and emerged as a formidable opposition in 2014. Its concerted attack on the Naidu government forced the TDP chief to implement his promise of building a new capital and bringing huge investments into the State.

The TDP found itself on a weak wicket in the backward Rayalseema region, a YSR stronghold.

Fully aware of Jagan’s vulnerability — with his baggage of cases and scams — the TDP took to poaching of legislators, especially in Rayalseema, to further weaken the Opposition. So far, it has succeeded in attracting 21 legislators from the YSR Congress, whose numbers are now down to 46.

Some of the defectors were also rewarded with ministries in the recent Cabinet reshuffle.

A worried Jagan first approached Governor ESL Narasimhan with a letter and did the rounds in New Delhi, including meeting President Pranab Mukherjee, over the defections.

“We explained the situation to him, wherein 21 MLAs belonging to YSR Congress Party have been lured by the TDP, and they haven’t been disqualified. The speaker doesn’t react. The Naidu government mocked democracy further by inducting four of the defectors into his Cabinet,” said Jagan.

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Published on April 11, 2017
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